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Rome Reports

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Pope Francis at Mass for Refugees: There is temptation today to build walls; poor are trampled

Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the fifth anniversary of his first papal visit: the island of Lampedusa, a destination for thousands of refugees trying to get to Europe on a risky voyage across the Mediterranean. Since 2015, more than 10,000 people have drowned while attempting to reach the coast.

The pope repeated a verse from Genesis that he read in Lampedusa, the question God asks Cain after his assassination of his brother, 'Where is your brother? His blood cries out to me.'

“This is not a question directed to others; it is a question directed to me, to you, to each of us. How many of the poor are trampled on in our day! How many of the poor are being brought to ruin! All are the victims of that culture of waste that has been denounced time and time again. Among them, I cannot fail to include the migrants and refugees who continue to knock at the door of nations that enjoy greater prosperity.”

Referencing the daily readings, the Holy Father recalled Jesus' rebuke of the Pharisees.

“It is a finger pointed at the sterile hypocrisy of those who do not want to “dirty the hands.” This is a temptation powerfully present in our own day. It builds walls, real or virtual, rather than bridges.”

Pope Francis said, in light of the migration challenge, the only sensible response is “solidarity and mercy.”

“A response less concerned with calculations, than with the need for an equitable distribution of responsibilities, an honest and sincere assessment of the alternatives and a prudent management. A just policy is one at the service of the person, of every person involved.”

Among the attendees were various refugees and volunteers. In his native language, the pope expressed his gratitude to Spanish rescuers for their work in the Mediterranean Sea. He told them they embody the Good Samaritan. At the conclusion of the Mass, he personally greeted each one of the 200 people present.